Monday, May 29, 2017

WorldEnd: Sweet with a Bitter Aftertaste

A new simulcast series that has made its way onto Crunchyroll, WorldEnd: What are you doing at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? has made a powerful impact in its first episode, hell, in the first six minutes. The plot, the setting, and the overall tone of this series are incredible, but the music and animation are key parts in what impressed me in the beginning. It's beautiful and makes a place for itself in the sea of fantasy and tragedy genre anime. Despite knowing how beautiful it is, we can't help but know in the back of our minds that it's not as sweet as we want it to be.

The brief description that Crunchyroll has provided I feel spoils things a little bit, the overview of the setting takes away the process of viewers analyzing what they see in order to determine what's happening. So I will not include the description until those facts become apparent, and review just on the information the episodes provide.

Six minutes in I had to pause it to start writing the review because I was so blown away. I have to say I've always liked series based off of light novels, although I'm a bit intimidated by the long titles. But of all the series, WorldEnd is on a different level. We start off with a sort of dreamlike scene, where a fierce and a possibly hopeless battle is occurring, and a young girl is lost in her own thoughts, unaware of what is happening around her. She has given everything she was to someone, saying she is the happiest girl in the world, and then proceeds to jump out of the aircraft. I think it's safe to assume that she's implying that she can die happy. What has pushed her to this point may be the battle, perhaps the person she loved has died and she's going to meet him in another life, but it's such a surreal scene. The viewer can't hear what is going on in the background, all we can really hear is a wistful female voice, and watch as the destruction unfolds around her. when even see someone reaching out to her, probably imploring her not to jump. The sound and the visuals had such a high contrast, and while having future events come before as an opener is usually cliche, here it actually makes viewers genuinely interested in where this is actually going.

For the next scene, there's a young girl in what appears to be a lower class neighborhood, where animal-like people live. It seems that the whole island is like that. They also subtly present the issue of prejudice against other races. Tha animal types don't like those without fur, and I'm sure that there are plenty of other classes that don't feel fond towards each other. From there, the production committee really steps up the pace by adding music, having a beautifully illustrated town, and smoothly transitions to introduce the setting. They did this very well, by overlooking the general surrounding area to reveal floating islands in the sky, metallic blimps, and an area that seems to have taken a big step back in advancements. The setting is very fantasy-Esque but there also seems to be a steampunk inspiration in the key animation. The music is what really sets the tone, it has a medieval twist and is gorgeous.

The girls being the special weapons wasn't that surprising considering the build up thus far. What was more interesting was their situation. They are some sort of human weapon, kept separate from society by the military and merchants guild, and there's a sort of melancholy that we feel from them, as they're kept locked away despite having dreams and goals they want to fulfill in the outside world. We see that with the blue haired female we first see, who's taken away after having her simple wish of overlooking the town come true. We can assume there's some sort of ulterior motive for the military, as generally keeping weapons hidden away isn't something they would do in normal circumstances.

There's also the interesting title, which leads the viewers to believe that there will be some sort of catastrophe, or there already has been one. Well, we already know that one has occurred, as the entirety of the human race, except for Willem, has been wiped out. This could be why the islands, where everyone seems to live, are there. Maybe something happened that made land inhabitable, or it's just gone entirely. Either way, the title leaves us wondering whether we'll be dealing with the aftermath of the end of the world, or if we're going to wait for the true end.

For the first episode, there's a lot of things up in the air they will address later, but as of right now the major themes seem to be the family aspect that's slowly growing, corruption, and probably tragedy. There's a lot of lighter anime that are out right now, so the depth that WorldEnd is presenting is very eye catching and interesting. From what the ending and opening have reveled, there's hope present through the familial bonds theme, it seems all of the girls and Willem are going to form into a sort of tight-knit family. But then we also know, both instinctively, through the description, and through what we can deduct, that things will not end well. We know that this will end sadly, tragically, and who knows what will happen to all of these characters. Even though we know this, there's a sort of desperate hope that we'll be wrong, but from the information present, it's unlikely. In essence, sweet with a bitter aftertaste.

The first episode was beautifully executed and skillfully avoided using any common cliches. Definitely worth watching past the first episode to see how it will progress. Will we be watching a tragedy? Or will this turn into a series that breathes hope?